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Special UNISPACE III volume
Marsteller, Deborah

International Archives of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Voi. XXXII Part 7C2, UNISPACE III. Vienna, 1999
“■Remote Sensing for the Detection, Monitoring
and Mitigation of Natural Disasters”
2:30-5:30 pm, 22 July 1999, VIC Room B
Vienna, Austria
Helen Wood, Director
NOAA Office of Satellite Data Processing and Distribution
Rm. 1069 FB-4, 5200 Auth Road
Suitland, MD 20746-4304, U.S.A.
Fax: +1-301-457-5184
NOAA relies on Earth observing satellite data to cam' out its operational mission to monitor, predict, and assess changes in the Earth's
atmosphere, land, and oceans. In NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS), satellite data
are used to help lessen the impacts of natural and man-made disasters due to tropical cyclones, flash floods, heavy snowstorms,
volcanic ash clouds (for aviation safety), sea ice (for shipping safety), and harmful algal blooms along U.S. coastlines.
While NOAA's National Weather Service is responsible for predicting tropical cyclones affecting the U.S. mainland, NESDIS is
continuously watching the tropics in all areas of the world, relaying satellite interpretations of tropical system strength and position to
users throughout the world. NESDIS scientists send text messages even' 6 hours for tropical cyclones in the Western Pacific, South
Pacific, and Indian Oceans.
To support the monitoring, prediction, and assessment of flash floods and winter storms, NESDIS sends out text messages alerting
U.S. weather forecast offices whenever NOAA satellite imagery indicates the occurrence of heavy rain or snow. NESDIS also produces
a 24-hour rainfall composite graphic image covering those areas affected by heavy precipitation.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and other aviation concerns recognized the need to keep aviators informed of
volcanic hazards. To that end, nine Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers (VAACs) were created to monitor volcanic ash plumes within their
assigned airspace. NESDIS hosts one of the VAACs. Although the NESDIS' VAAC primary responsibility is the continental U.S.,
Caribbean, and adjacent oceans, it also tracks volcanic eruptions throughout the world. Text messages are produced along with graphic
Environmental satellites also help to ensure safe navigation of ships through sea ice by measuring the extent, thickness, and age of ice
over the polar regions of the globe, coastal areas, and inland waterways. Finally, environmental satellites help NESDIS to monitor
U.S. coastal areas for dangerous algal blooms or other toxic effects to fish and sea mammals.